The saying is true, ‘there’s no place like home for the holidays’. This is especially true in my case because I happen to have grown up with a mother and grandmother who make the Christmas season especially magical. It is a time full of traditions and many of my favorite memories are from Christmases past. That is why I am so excited that next Christmas; I will be back in the states and am looking forward to celebrating my favorite season with my whole family.
This year, we broke tradition and did something completely different. My family celebrated an early Christmas back home with my Grandma so that they could travel to Colombia and celebrate Christmas with me! As much as I missed the family and traditions back home, it was so wonderful to have my parents and sister here in Colombia and to be together for the holidays!
I left home sixteen months ago, and saying goodbye to my parents at the airport in Phoenix was the last time I had seen them. Sixteen months is by far the longest I have ever gone without seeing my family, so needless to say I was very anxious to be reunited! After a day of traveling I arrived in Bogota around 8:00pm on Christmas Eve. My family’s flight was delayed almost two hours so I had a long time to sit around in the airport with butterflies in my stomach! They finally arrived and immediately spotted me pressed against the glass waiting for them.
After a quick trip through customs, I was hugging my family (in front of lots of pointing/watching/smiling Colombians)! We headed to a beautiful hotel and I hopped into a long awaited hot shower. When I got out, there were fuzzy pajamas, Christmas decorations, and Christmas cookies waiting for me! They also brought me a whole suitcase full of things I have been missing from home like makeup, toothpaste, raisin bran, clothes, wheat thins, and so much more!
We spent three days in Bogota and I was amazed at the size of the city. We took a day trip out to Zipaquirá to see the Salt Cathedral, explored La Candelaria, visited the Gold Museum and the Botero Museum, saw many beautiful churches, hit up my favorite brewery, went out to experience an open air market, enjoyed some traditional Colombian soups, and rode the cable car up to Monserrate.
Next we headed back to the coast to spend two days in Cartagena. We spent our first day walking around the historic walled city, browsing the shops, visiting the plazas, enjoying some Crepes and Waffles, and trying to stay cool! That night we went up on the walls and enjoyed the beautiful Christmas decorations throughout the centro. Our second day was spent relaxing on the beach in front of our hotel. We had some traditional costal Colombian lunches, sampled Colombian beers, tried some treats from the vendors, worked on our tans, and cooled off in the refreshing Caribbean sea!
On our last night we headed up to the hotel room where my family packed their bags to go home. I took them to the airport and we enjoyed some Juan Valdez while we waited. Eventually the time came for them to head through security and we had to say our goodbyes. Luckily this time we are only saying goodbye for about 10 months! My wonderful Dad arranged for me to stay in the hotel one more night, so I headed back and enjoyed a few more hot showers and some Keeping Up with the Kardashians in the air conditioned room!
It was a really wonderful trip and so much fun to share some of this beautiful country I am currently calling home with my family! Hands down the hardest part of this experience is being away from so many people I love, so I am really thankful that I got to spend some time with the most important people in my life, my parents and my sister! I will never be able to express how much it meant to me to be together for the holidays.
I hope that you all had a wonderful holiday season filled with love and that you are entering into the New Year with hope that 2014 will be the best year yet!
Until next time….paz y amor.